White Fence – For the Recently Found Innocent (album review)

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You’d be forgiven for not knowing that For the Recently Found Innocent is in fact Tim Presley’s sixth album under the White Fence moniker. Moreover, it’s his sixth album since 2010 (seventh if you include 2012’s White Fence/Ty Segall collaboration Hair). The similarly lo-fi and similarly prolific Segall produces here, which is a departure for Presley, whom has on all previous White Fence recordings save for Hair done it all himself. For the Recently Found Innocent is also Presley’s first solo album to be released on the Chicago indie label Drag City; also the home of Segall, and of the greatest garage punk band you’ve never heard of, Death.

I digress. Presley’s  almost frightening prolificacy gives his partner in crime Segall and bands like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard a run for their money in a day and age where the ‘premier’ rock bands (whatever that may mean), your Radioheads and your  Chili Peppers (and whomever else) will spend years making and refining a single album, tour for two years behind that same album and then take another year or two off to spend time with the kids or be in more side and/or solo projects than you can count (let’s not even start on your My Bloody Valentines). I honestly believe that there is no reason why an artist or band couldn’t put together an album or two of good quality songs per year at their creative peak. In the 60s and for most of the 70s that was the norm for a working band, until they became too big, bloated, jaded or uninspired to keep doing so.

Obviously the major label model is completely different today with the whole album-tour-album cycle thing, which doesn’t really allow for this sort of thing for anyone but the most reliable cash cows, and even then, it often gets dismissed as oversaturation, or as some pretentious, misguided vanity project. However, when we’re talking smaller, generally younger independent artists and labels, it might as well be 1969 again, and Tim Presley’s White Fence is one of the best examples.

Alright well….rant’s over, here’s what I think about the album:

It’s familiar-sounding, sure. Songwise it’s not a massive departure from the last year’s Cyclops Reap, but that doesn’t really matter because it’s a continuation rather than a rehash. It’s higher-fidelity than anything Presley has done in the past, but don’t let that put you off if you’re one of those Pavement-worshipping lo-fi zealots. They still used ‘shitty’ recording equipment, and it’s not like they were recording in a studio or anything either, although Ty Segall’s garage is definitely a bit of an upgrade from Presley’s cramped bedroom where he’s recorded in the past. Recently Found Innocent is still rawer than that cut-price hamburger that you don’t care you didn’t quite cook for long enough. It still sounds nice and rough and crackly in places, just like the ’60s garage bands Presley wholeheartedly admits he’s aping. If anything, the most noticeable fidelity ‘improvement’ sound-wise is in the clarity of the vocals on the album.

I’m at times not sure who’s playing what on each track, but I gather that it’s mostly Presley, with live band member Nick Murray and Segall adding the drum tracks and some backing vocals here and there. The first single, ‘Like That’, is a Nuggets-y pop tune in which Presley and Segall really shine as multi-instrumentalists. Our mate Ty (or is it Nick?) knows when to keep his drumming in the pocket and when to flourish a bit, and Presley adds a spazzy ‘Taxman’-esque solo out of nowhere at the end of the track. ‘Anger! Who Keeps You Under?’ is equally good.

‘Wolf Gets Red Faced’ features some great surfy guitar, as does the slower, slide guitar-laced summertime tune ‘Hard Water’. The latter just begs to put to some vintage Super-8 surf footage.

The fuzz is stripped away on a few songs, too; ‘Sandra (When The Earth Dies)’, ‘Goodbye Law’ and ‘Fear’ are all pretty Beatlesque (for want of a better word). The album takes things the other way too, though; ‘The Light’ has a pounding, glammy riff to it, ‘Raven on White Cadillac’ is a bouncing mess of piano, and ‘Paranoid Bait’ minus Presley’s laid back vocals could be a Stooges song.

For the Recently Found Innocent is definitely a more refined affair than the 4-track things we’re used to Tim Presley doing, but all that means is that there was a little bit of collaboration this time around, and they made some slightly-less shitty than usual equipment sound very, very good.

If you like: Ty Segall, obviously, and the Nuggets compilations.

Best tracks: ‘Like That’, ‘Anger! Who Keeps You Under?’, ‘Hard Water’, ‘Raven on White Cadillac’.

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8 thoughts on “White Fence – For the Recently Found Innocent (album review)

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